Austin J. Booth–2021 Steel Intern Scholar
Working for Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., this summer has been an incredible learning experience and has opened my eyes to a career path I previously knew nothing about. I spent my internship at Cleveland-Cliffs’ Research and Innovation Center in Middletown, Ohio, working on evaluating a recently developed steel grade. Over the course of the summer, I was able to substantially contribute to a high-priority project, gain a solid understanding of the steelmaking process and industry, learn what life in steel research is like, and build friendships with many talented engineers, scientists and technicians at the Research and Innovation Center.
As a chemical engineering student, I went into this internship knowing next to nothing about steel or metallurgy. My teammates and mentors immediately made me feel welcome, and their guidance taught me everything from how to run tensile tests to how minor changes in steel’s chemical composition or processing can influence its microstructure and properties. My project’s main focus was performing chemical, mechanical, and microstructural characterization of Cleveland-Cliffs’ newest grade of enameling steel, as well as comparing its performance with existing enameling steels under industry conditions. I ran countless tests to obtain various properties of these grades, and in doing so, learned a great deal about the metallurgical theory researchers use to design and improve new steels. My project was the perfect crash course on how every step in the steelmaking process helps shape the final product. It also gave me an understanding of, and excitement for, what my potential future career as a steel research engineer could look like.
I couldn’t have asked for an internship with more engaging and varied work, from firing samples in furnaces to capturing microscopic images of steel microstructures. I found myself really appreciating the impact research engineers have on Cleveland-Cliffs’ operations, as well as the in-depth understanding they need of the entire production process. Metallurgical research is a complex, interdisciplinary field full of nuance. I’m grateful to Cleveland-Cliffs and AIST for the opportunity to experience this environment hands-on and learn so much about how a steel company operates and innovates.
I will leave this internship with a newfound enthusiasm and appreciation for steel research. The steel industry has gone from just a consideration to my top choice for a career once I graduate. Thank you to my mentors and teammates at Cleveland-Cliffs for making this an unforgettable summer.